This year was different. An important member of the Boulder chapter of Citizen's Climate Lobby, Eliana Berlfein, passed away on January 31st, a few months after a cancer diagnosis. Today was a celebration of her life and her passing, starting with a funeral at Congregation Nevei Kodesh, an internment ceremony, and finally a consolation meal with family and friends. All three were beautiful and touching.
Eliana brought a remarkable amount of grace to her dying process. The service included a piece she had written to be presented at her own funeral. I asked one of her sisters for a copy of the "speech" so I can remember a few brilliant quotes, one of which was something like "Guess who I ran into on the way to heaven?"
At Eliana's grave we huddled around the rabbi so we could hear over the intense Boulder chinook wind; someone commented later that it was introverted Eliana's speech now free. In Jewish tradition, written material with the name of God should not be destroyed, so the concrete box at the bottom of the grave held many papers and prayerbooks and probably a Torah or two. Eliana had chosen not to be buried in a casket, which is apparently the ancient Jewish way and common in Israel but fairly new in the U.S. So her nieces and nephews bore her body, wrapped in a white shroud, to the grave on a back board and then lowered her body in, where the gentlemen from the mortuary laid her atop her spiritual materials. Her family members then each picked up a handful of dirt and then the rest of us continued shoveling, embracing Eliana with earth.
At the consolation gathering Eliana's sisters asked her friends to share stories, since we'd heard from the family during the service. My connection with Eliana was fairly narrow, so the day of mourning and celebrations was an opportunity to discover the other facets of her life, from art to web design to skinny dipping to baking desserts. She was a fantastic person and I'm bummed I didn't have a chance to know her better.
Her nieces and nephews saw my purple Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers and, recalling Eliana's long-established love of purple, decided to all get matching purple Chucks. I smiled and shared that I actually had a CCL story about these shoes. I bought them in September (part of my annual Burning Man reentry process) and made sure to keep them clean and in good shape for lobby meetings in November. But when I got to Washington D.C. this year and headed to Catharsis on the Mall, it'd been a rainy week, so I spent the weekend Rangering in mud and getting dirt and grass all over my clean Chucks. Then, awkwardly, the legislative director in my first meeting complimented me on my shoes as we were sitting down.
I'd planned to do some Getting Things Done for Shadow Boxing Day when I got home, but instead it turned into several hours of researching Caribbean islands with Kelly fr a trip this spring. Fortunately I Got Things Done on Groundhog Day itself, clearing all of the accumulated papers on my desk and stereo system off to the bookshelves I set up in the office last weekend. Now when the cats we're taking care of for a month jump onto my desk while I'm computing they won't trigger a landslide of financial paperwork.